Learning with DigiStar #Part3 – Everybody screws up sometimes
Innofactor’s DigiStar program was organized for the third time in 2021. New graduates, career changers, and people who are in the final stages of their studies and who are enthusiastic about modern technologies may be selected for the program. In 2021, a total of 14 DigiStars started working in different roles around Innofactor’s Finland offices. In this blog series, Miika Mikkonen, who started at the Tampere office, shares his honest experiences along the way.
Autumn brought changes
When the last DigiStar blog was published, we were just about to end the summer season and colleagues were returning to work and we did not know what the fall would bring. A few months have now passed, and I can say that I could not then have guessed how many different things I would do and that Innofactor would have had an organizational change. Fortunately, despite the changes, daily work has gone very smoothly and there have been no nightmare scenarios. Sometimes organizational changes can be demonized in discussions. However, the change has not affected my daily work in any way, and the upside is that now both our customers and we all can understand Innofactor’s offerings a little more clearly, as well as what areas we have competency in.
Projects, on the other hand, have given us both successes and disappointments. However, the most important thing is that during the fall I have learned and oriented myself to the fact that in a consultant-driven world, development work is not necessarily what you will be doing all the time, even though it has a role to play. During the fall, I have been able to be more involved in the customer side, defining customer needs and agreeing on the implementation of the projects. I have even felt that I have been able to take responsibility for the success of the projects. Another advantage has been that the projects have mainly been in the field of technologies that are interesting to me, such as Microsoft Azure, Power Platform, and Teams.
New territorial conquests and even something old
Alongside the increased development and planning, I have also been able to try out other kinds of tasks. This tangent consisted mainly of making training materials. It involved writing scripts, filming/recording videos, and producing supplementary material. This project was interesting because it is something that I would rarely get to do in my everyday work. When you deviate from your own work tasks and you deep-dive into something unknown in a short period of time, it always gives you a new learning opportunity and brings a different perspective to your work.
An example of this is the importance that the product being developed is not only functional and secure but also convenient and easy to use. Especially when the end user’s technical competency is not great. Otherwise, challenges may arise, for example, in end user training, and it may happen that the end-user does not want to use the product in the end and its significance/effectiveness decreases. Fortunately, Microsoft has clear guidelines on how to design a product/application user interface with the FluentUI Design System, Microsoft’s design system. It makes planning the UI/UX side a lot easier, although I have had to learn a lot.
These are the kinds of learning experiences I have learned to cherish, although in that moment it may not feel fun and easy – and it shouldn’t. If everything was always fun and easy, workdays would be boring.
During the fall, I have worked with communications but also on my core competency. For example, developing TeamsMate and adding functionalities have continued to be a big part of it. Funnily enough, my own way of thinking has gradually changed so that every time I find out about a new Microsoft interface or added functionality, my mind creates a chain of thought on how we could start using these in our own work. I’ve worked with TeamsMate so much that it always comes to mind first, of course. Especially now before the fall, when many new products, functionalities and projects are published and announced at Microsoft’s Ignite event, there is always something to learn.
Learn from failures
Since there tend to be a lot of interesting things to learn, you can sometimes bite off more than you can chew. The first disappointment happened also during the fall when we took on a new project and, in the end, we figured out that our knowledge and skills were not sufficient to carry out the project. The thought of “we can’t do this, because we don’t have enough knowledge or competence for this” never even crossed our minds. Well, what happened was that we couldn’t do it, and this turned out to be quite a disappointment. Because until then, we had been able to solve all challenges we had taken on by (occasionally very little) research and practice. I hear that the first disappointment is often the worst, but hey, everybody screws up sometimes and in the end there’s nothing you can do about it.
However, we need to learn from our failures, and we will know better what we can and cannot do in the future (quite an important thing in such a consulting-driven job). Fortunately for me, my own team and mentors have been there for support, even when things go south. During the fall, I have learned a lot more and maybe got a better picture of the actual business and the customer side. While in the summer, I learned more in the field of coding and development. It is good that I have succeeded in periodizing my study and competence development and I haven’t gone with the “everything at once” mentality. That’s how I’ve been able to master the things that have been at the center of focus at any given time.
After all, in the fall I have also had time to study, and I also completed another certificate while working: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals. The role of data security is growing more and more in the management of cyber environments. And now that we are investing even more in cybersecurity at Innofactor, it was a good idea take advantage of studies and get to know how best to help and support our customers in this area. Based on these studies, I will be heading to the next Associate level certifications, which will bring deeper competency of Azure, Power Platform, and M365 environment development. But more on this next time.
Make sure to also read Miika’s first (published at the beginning of June 2021) blog: Learning with DigiStar #Part1 – I immediately felt like a part of the team
And the second (published at the end of August 2021) part: Learning with DigiStar #Part2 – No one is born a master